Gleaming rehab at CTA Morse station earns an A-minus

The Morse Avenue station opened this weekend to ooohs, aaahs, and much praise from the Rogers Park community. The six-week rehab effort by the CTA and crews of workers earns an A-minus from CTA Tattler.

A gorgeous, newly expanded stationhouse greets Morse patrons with more turnstiles, more elbow room and bright new white-tile walls and terrazzo flooring. One of the turnstiles is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and appropriately signed. But I hope a wheelchair-bound customer isn't expecting to find an elevator. I found that to be slightly confusing.

Despite that minor quibble, there are lots of good things to be said about the rehab, part of the CTA's $86 million Red North Station Interim Improvements project. "It's so much cleaner, and so much less smelly," a 20-something woman remarked to her friends as they made their way to the platform.

At the platform-level, they found a concrete platform to replace the rotting wood boards, new signage, two heat lamps.  four wooden benches and four garbage cans. For those counting (me), that's one more bench and garbage can than you'll find at the newly rehabbed Granville station about a mile away.

However, there's one thing better at Granville: The plexiglass in the stairway enclosure fits tighter there than at Morse. Several of the panels were loose to the touch at Morse, a detail that lowered my grade to an A-minus. But that may yet be fixed. Other items yet to finished are the curtain walls on the vacant storefronts at Morse and Lunt. And there's plenty of viaduct work yet to be done at Lunt.

And speaking of Lunt, the enclosed entrance is handsome, but the door frame is about six inches from the card reader one taps to enter. That's a tad too close for my taste.

Regardless, the Morse rehab is now the gold standard for the other five stations yet to be done this year. Thorndale will close late on Friday for six weeks. It suffers from many of the same problems that Morse did. (See my "before" photos of Morse for a catalog.) Time will tell if the CTA solves them as well as they fixed the problems at Morse Avenue.

C'est magnifique!

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  • Fixing up Thorndale will be a waste of money.
    They're talking about closing it & building a south entrance to Granville at Glenlake, which is only one longer than normal block from Thorndale.
    By wasting money on Thorndale, they're signalling they're not serious about closing it.
    The same goes for the thoroughly useless Jarvis, just a quarter-mile from Howard.
    But since Joe Moore's office is at Jarvis & Greenview, next to the station, there's a great sucking up coming from the CTA!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I don't think they intimated anything different with respect to this project.

    If they were going to close stations, they would have to hold public hearings, and at least Moore would have gotten a big turnout. Then the whole project would have been tied up.

  • Two things, one directly implied by Kevin, one by a poster on chicagobus.org:

    1. Was the handicap fare barrier because that's what was available, was large enough to cover the opening, or does CTA foresee the type of situation as portrayed in the video of a wheelchair user trying to use the escalator?

    2. Is the plexiglass etch poof?

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, I don't know the answer to your first questions, except that this is NO escalator at Morse.

    And I don't know whether the plexi it's etch-proof. Don't intend to test it etiher, but I will be watching.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I didn't think that there was one. I don't know if there is a wheelchair bound fixed stair hopper, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't in CTA's thoughts.

    I'll take the "what's available" theory, especially since it is not clear how much of the equipment is going to be replaced for the open fare project, given prior statements that something like the open fare project had to be done because the existing equipment is obsolete.

  • In reply to jack:

    I used the handicap barrier to exit yesterday because I was carrying a couple of bags. When I entered, the strap on one got caught on the turnstile & I had to stop & untangle it. So when I got off it was a lot easier to just push the button & exit through a gate.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I do the same whenever it's clear that my bags and me won't clear a regular turnstile without problems. Even used the gate to enter the other day at Howard. You pay the same as with a turnstile, that's what counts. No objections from the CTA employees who were busy talking to each other (and absentmindedly blocking one of the regular turnstiles).

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    Is there a definite plan to put in an elevator?

  • In reply to Steven Winkler:

    No Steven, there is no current plan for an elevator or escalator. If the CTA gets funding for the Red Purple Modernization project, accessibility at all stations north of Addison would be included.

  • In reply to Steven Winkler:

    Just to add to my previous comment (which for some odd reason has not shown yet), the logistics of putting in an elevator at the stations being renovated (save for Granville, which already has one) is extremely difficult.

    The platforms at all these stations are only 12 feet wide, meaning that in order to fit an elevator mid-platform, it would have to be extremely narrow (little wider than ~3 feet) in order to have the ADA-required 4 feet clearance on either side of the elevator. That is why Granville's elevator is at the very north end of the platform.

    Although an option could be to build an elevator that goes to one of the platform edges, immediately adjacent to the tracks, with a sufficient clearance on the other side, requiring trains in one direction to align themselves properly so that no train exit is blocked by an elevator.

    At least at Morse, an elevator can be put in, but it would not be in the main station house barring the scenario in the above paragraph. Rather, it would have to replace the stairs at the Lunt auxiliary entrance at the north end of the platform, or be constructed at the former auxiliary exit on the south side of Morse, at the south end of the platform.

    This would have to include a wheelchair accessible rotogate, two of which already exist on the CTA system, serving the outbound platforms at King Drive and Cottage Grove on the Green Line.

    The only other station I could see an elevator being put in at minimal cost for the stations receiving interim improvements is Lawrence, which could be done in the fenced off "station house" and be aligned at the south end of the platform.

    All others would require reopening auxiliary exits which have been disused I believe for decades.

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    The extra wide turnstile is also a benefit for those toting luggage to/from airport. Love the rehab...just a few years after I moved out and now use a different "L" stop daily.

  • Ok, all talk of closing Throndale would be asinine! Reason being, and I was born and raised in Edgewater and actually use the Throndale stop, is because there are 2 schools right there. Not to mention all the north side commuters to downtown that ride along with me. Bryn Mawr is much father to go to for Senn High School, I ought to know I am an alum from Senn, use to live near it and used the Bryn Mawr stop for years. I have never heard in all the closings that they were going to get rid of the Thorndale stop. I for one cannot wait till they fix the stairs on the north end of the platform, there is a stop that is a little too high and if you are racing down the stairs you will know it when you hit it. Done that a few times not thinking of anything and nearly went face first if it were not for the fact i hover my hand over the railing as I go down. Would never touch that thing unless I really had to.

    As for the handicap entrance, it could be they might put in an elevator at some point, but I am sure it is for the baby strollers that are often brought on the train at the ungodly hour of work (yes they are on the morning rush hour, UGH!) and the bikes that people "ride to work" or those with grocery carts and such. They never really think about the handicapped when they put those things in stations without an elevator and it is sad too!

  • If Thorndale is closed, it will be after a south entrance/exit is built at Glenlake for the Granville station.
    That's just one extra block from Thorndale for the Senn students..
    And very few if any kids or teachers use Thorndale to get to Swift School.

  • In general regarding the ADA issues, just to clarify, it is my understanding that there is no cut off point at which accessibility requirements kick in.

    Rather, the ADA requires that 20% of renovation budgets go towards bringing facilities up to ADA standards, or less if that is what is necessary to bring it up to code. And it appears that it is what has been done at platform level (save for the narrow clearances around the stairwells), as well as in the station house itself.

    Though I don't know why the International Symbol of Access is shown on the gate, when a stroller symbol would suffice given the present situation. http://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/60395/60395,1160795215,1/stock-photo-accessible-and-stroller-entrance-sign-1994514.jpg

    This symbol can be found on the gates at North/Clybourn, as well as the north entrance to the Howard stop, and formerly at Fullerton and Belmont before the elevators were put into service.

    Although, lest we forget, Morse doesn't exactly have the greatest history when it comes to strollers: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-11-05/news/0911040707_1_stroller-train-operator-doors

  • Regarding the whole ADA issue in general here, keep in mind that it's my understanding that there is no "cut-off" at which ADA requirements suddenly have to be used; rather, 20% of renovation budgets need to go towards ADA accessibility improvements, or less if that is what is necessary to bring a facility fully up to code.

    And it appears that at platform level (save for clearances around the stairwells) and in the station house, that has been done. Though I have no clue why the International Symbol of Access was used on the gate, given that a stroller symbol would suffice given the present situation, and is already in use on gates at North/Clybourn, the north entrance to Howard, and formerly at Fullerton and Belmont before the elevators were put into service there.

    Although, lest we forget, Morse doesn't exactly have a great history when it comes to strollers.

  • "one more bench and garbage can than you'll find at the newly rehabbed Granville station about a mile away."

    Yes, let's hear from the CTA about whether and when the benches will be restored to their previous number. If not, I may follow through on my earlier threat (made regarding Monroe when they failed to replace benches) to get some 2 x 4s and tool-handy volunteers for a guerrilla construction project. Do they hope that absence of benches will result in fewer people needing to sit? That's not the way it works, guys, and we WILL make you look bad if we have to.

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